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L.A. Stories / The Roving Eye

L.A. Stories

Fetching a Velvet Elvis

The Wall Street Journal recently named The Grove at Farmer’s Market as having the best concierge service in the country, beating such venerable names as the Four Seasons Hotel in New York and the W Hotel in San Francisco.

In rating various concierge services the Journal cooked up a dozen requests, from making dinner reservations to tracking down a velvet painting of Elvis Presley. Attitude was also taken into consideration.

The Grove came through on 10 of 12 requests, including the Elvis painting. Grove employees, who were described by the Journal as “serious, unflappable,” got the painting from a vendor on Olvera Street.

“I’m very happy and proud of my team out there,” said Rick Caruso, chief executive of Caruso Affiliated Holdings, the developer/owner of the Grove.

And the Elvis painting? “I can’t take any credit,” he said.

We’re No. 10

Even after the Sept. 11 attacks, more people would rather live in New York than Los Angeles.

The Big Apple held onto the top spot this year in an annual survey of cities people would most like to live in or near to. L.A. rose to the No. 10 spot (from No. 11 last year) in the Harris Interactive poll, conducted among 1,010 adults nationwide. San Francisco came in second, while Seattle, Orlando and Atlanta rounded out the Top 5.

Angelenos do have some reason to cheer.

“(L.A.) is actually higher in this survey than it’s ever been,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll.

Taylor wasn’t really sure why L.A. hasn’t been able to do better.

“My guess would be that Hollywood and all that is sort of good,” he said. “But it’s also seen as a huge city with a lot of driving.”




Small World

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for John Palmer and Brick Price, partners behind WonderWorks, the Canoga Park-based designer and manufacturer of special effects and theme park and museum attractions.

Shortly after jetting back from China, where they announced a joint project with a local company to finance, design and build a $200 million motion picture studio and theme park, the partners introduced plans to build a $40 million film studio in Montreal.

Working in China is not without its difficulties, but Palmer said developing the park which will be called Haikou-Hollywood International Motion Picture Studio and Theme Park is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The amusement park is on Haikou Island, about an hour by plane from Hong Kong. It will include a working studio, a film school and a center dedicated to Chinese culture.

Despite the language barrier, Palmer says he found a lot in common with his Chinese partners. “They like to go out and have some fun and have some beers. They really like to drink beer,” he said.

And being from Hollywood Canoga Park, actually is a constant source of amusement for the young women who served as interpreters for the American businesspeople.

“The first question they want to know,” he says, “is do you know Brad Pitt.”

The Other Side

Not everyone believes Hollywood secession is dead.

Bob Jimenez, a senior correspondent at KFWB-AM (980), recently quit the news business after 22 years to work for the campaign.

Jimenez joined his wife, Sharon, a Hollywood PR consultant working on the Hollywood Independence campaign. He’s also teaching a journalism class at USC.

Jimenez said L.A. City Hall has been trying to stifle debate on secession and that he can help get the word out. “Now, I’m a strategist helping the Hollywood Independence campaign to reach the media,” he said.

As a KFWB reporter, Jimenez did an occasional story on secession. After his wife took the Hollywood secession consulting post in June, he had to be “extremely careful” to ensure there was no conflict in his reporting.

Darrell Satzman, Howard Fine, Conor Dougherty, Claudia Peschiutta.

The Roving Eye





Nailed

Forget about honoring your honey with a tattoo. Paint Shop Beverly Hills has come up with a quicker and far less painful way to show your love.

The trendy nail salon offers “alphabet pedicures,” which consist of painting or drawing one or more letters, often initials, on fingernails or toenails. The designs are done freehand, using either watercolors or a pen.

The expressive decorations are a follow-up to the “Braille nail” pedicure the salon introduced last summer, said co-owner Julie Serquinia. That one featured Braille letters written out in rhinestones.

“We decided to take out a little bit of the mystery and start writing the actual letter on the nail,” Serquinia said.

DailyCandy.com recently declared the alphabet pedicure the latest trend in nail art and said the letters often refer to “boyfriends, dogs and other near-and-dear ones.”

“Basically, pedicures seem to go through stages,” said DailyCandy founder Dany Levy. “With personalization being the trend of the moment, (the alphabet pedicure) sort of seemed the natural progression.”

Given the Paint Shop’s diverse clientele, other languages, including Korean and Russian, are making their way into alphabet pedicures. The cost is $1 per letter.

Serquinia concedes these attention-grabbing pedicures aren’t for everyone. Mostly, it’s younger, more “artistic” types who ask for them, she said.

And if someone asks to have something risqu & #233; spelled out on their nails, Serquinia says she won’t let people get “too trashy.”

“If somebody wants to be a little naughty, we’ll suggest they go the Braille route,” she said.

Claudia Peschiutta

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